Bringing in the class
What it takes to recruit and enroll CNRE’s best and brightest
March 13, 2020
What’s your college search story? Did you visit campuses in Virginia and beyond, attend a college fair, or try to find your path through an avalanche of mail? How did you know — really know — that Virginia Tech was the place for you?
Choosing a college is a big decision for a 17-year-old. And it keeps getting tougher. In the past, searching for and deciding on a college often meant continuing a family legacy or taking the advice of a school counselor or teacher.
Today, many colleges are explored and enrollment decisions are made in the digital space. While the admissions office was once every campus’ front door, most students now make their first “visit” to a college through its website and social media.
Even though there are a plethora of opportunities in the digital space, there is still something to be said for the personal touch. For CNRE, no one does that better than John Gray Williams, director of recruitment, who travels many miles to talk with prospective students in their own backyards, as well as leading daily visit sessions and attending admissions events on the Virginia Tech campus.
Somehow, it all comes together — this blending of traditional and technology — and works to create a pipeline of prospective students, a steady flow of admission applications, and a committed class of students each year who can’t wait to study what they are passionate about and be a part of CNRE.
We invite you to get an inside look at what happens in Cheatham Hall, goes in the mail, gets clicked on the website, and pops up on Instagram as we work to bring in the next class.
Like many things, it truly does take a village, and we are also looking for enthusiastic alumni who want to get involved. If you would be willing to visit your high school, judge a science fair, or help with a welcome party, connect with John Gray Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to give more, consider funding a scholarship that would help make it financially possible for a student to attend college. Scholarships are also a great way to recognize students for their academic achievements and encourage those who have many offers to choose Virginia Tech. If you’d like to learn more, contact Julia Allen, assistant dean of advancement, at email@example.com.
And in the meantime, come visit CNRE any time on the web, through social media, or in Cheatham Hall. The door is always open.
The following text details some of the steps in the recruitment process, with each item corresponding to the numbers in the photo at the top of this page.
- When he travels, John Gray always brings along the college’s recruitment brochure. It is also placed in the hands of every student who comes to campus. It distills the best of CNRE, like hands-on and high-tech learning, faculty legends, overseas study options, and involvement opportunities, into a portable piece families can take home.
- There’s no better way for prospective students to experience life as a Hokie than a campus visit, and we roll out the red carpet for every student and family. Most visitors take an admissions campus tour and then come to Cheatham Hall to meet one of our CNRE student ambassadors and attend a one-to-one info session with John Gray Williams. When he launches into his “Top 7½ Reasons to Choose CNRE” presentation, it’s where he and the college really shine.
- Meet John Gray Williams, director of recruitment. In addition to on-campus recruitment events, he spends much of his time on the road, traveling to every region in Virginia as well as to neighboring states. His mission: to spread the word about the great things happening in CNRE at high schools, community colleges, college fairs, science fairs, and professional meetings for educators.
- The website may have the most helpful college search info, but emails are a close second. That’s why CNRE uses “drip” email streams for both prospective and admitted students (parents get some, too!). Emails start to go out as soon as we have a student’s contact information or they get accepted, and the info is geared to what students need to know: application deadlines, how to visit, and what CNRE has to offer.
- In the digital age, there is always still room for the personal touch. Every year, CNRE student ambassadors take the time to write personal messages to admitted students in their majors. It’s our way of making sure prospective students know they are wanted and welcome at Virginia Tech and that they know all the best things the college has to offer.
- CNRE is the No. 1 ranked place to study natural resources and conservation, so we need to toot our own horn! That’s where our messaging with prospective students begins, but it’s not where it ends. Our goal is to build the pipeline and cultivate students’ interest through a series of touches that might start with something like this postcard but will end with them becoming Hokies.
- Are you following CNRE on Instagram? It’s the most used social media site by teens and the best place for getting an insider’s look at what students and faculty are up to on campus and in the field — like when a wildlife conservation major released a rehabilitated hawk. You can also check us out on Facebook and Twitter!
- The Department of Geography recently held its first preview event to offer prospective students an inside look at what it’s like to study geography at Virginia Tech. Faculty, staff, and current students partnered with geospatial leader Esri in Northern Virginia so prospective students could learn about what they’ll study as well as what careers they’ll be prepared for.
- The website is the hub of all communications activities, and 79% of students name it as the most helpful source of college info, according to the firm EAB. What are some of our most popular pages beyond the homepage? Students want info about majors, the career fair, advising, and hands-on learning.